Council to inject $22.5m to expand Normandy Road Reserve

Council to inject $22.5m to expand Normandy Road Reserve
Brendan Rees

A bold plan to expand Southbank’s Normandy Rd Reserve by 1.2 hectares has been revealed in a City of Melbourne pre-budget announcement in what shapes as a big win for Southbankers.

The council has proposed to spend $22.5 million on the project, which, if endorsed, would see the reserve include spaces for play, lawns, picnics and community gatherings, as well as plantings and integrated water management features.

The proposed park extension would take in the outbound lane of arterial Normanby Rd between the West Gate Fwy and Clarendon St, parallel to Whiteman St, and would incorporate the existing median strip.

Councillors voted on the proposal at their May 7 Future Melbourne Committee meeting, shortly after the May edition of Southbank News went to press.

A council report stated that council management would explore funding contributions from state government, transport agencies, and other external sources, and that its open space strategy “identifies the need” for the Normanby Road Reserve expansion, as well as three new small local open spaces in surrounding blocks west of Kings Way.

“The Normanby Rd Reserve is unique in Southbank for its access to northern sunlight and its size. No other opportunities in the neighbourhood could achieve a similar size,” the report said.

Three phases of community engagement for the proposal would be developed, and the Department of Transport and Planning would also have to approve any plans.

A final concept plan is earmarked to be presented to council in June 2025.

The additional green space would be a welcome reprieve for Southbank, which is the city’s most densely populated residential neighbourhood.

It’s also the fifth fastest growing suburb in Victoria with new developments and population growth squeezing Southbank’s already few open spaces.

The reserve’s expansion, which would take three years to be delivered, comes as the council is set to progress key projects delivering more open space, including the Australian Centre of Contemporary Art forecourt and the Miles and Dodds St Reserve, as well as Chapman St Reserve in North Melbourne.

Construction of the Dodds St linear park (between Grant St and Southbank Boulevard) is also nearing completion with crews recently installed amphitheatre seating and tree pits and preparing the site for landscaping.

The council report said investigations into suitable open spaces including valuations in Southbank had been undertaken on eight properties.

“Discussions on purchase price have been held with the owners of four of these properties, and of these, further investigations and negotiations on two are ongoing as of April 2024,” it said.



Council management has also advised councillors to abandon plans (pictured above) of a master plan and business case for the decking of the City Link tunnel entrance “due to constraints of land ownership, structural feasibility and prohibitive cost”, which would exceed $1.5 billion.

In other developments, community consultation will begin on the council’s City Rd Master Plan for the northern undercroft, which proposes to convert a 5000-square-metre area into multi-function spaces, gardens and public plazas.

Councillors also received an update on the City Road Master Plan from council management on May 7, which sought endorsement of a draft concept design for the new space at the undercroft (pictured below).



This is in addition to the new Southbank Boulevard Reserves adding a further 4000 square metres of new open space in Southbank.

The proposal to expand the Normanby Road Reserve is part of a $29.5 million investment in open space in the council’s draft budget to be revealed on May 14.

It would see the city consider or progress work on nine new parks and open spaces across the municipality.

Local resident Casey Nott, a writer and mum of three (pictured), said she was thrilled to see more urban green spaces being created, including the Dodds St linear park.



“The more the merrier I say for green spaces especially with little kids, we’re always outside,” she said.

“Purposeful smaller spaces are a good idea in general for people’s wellbeing, biophilia and when people were locked up in the pandemic; we need that air and trees.”

Major construction will begin later this month on the Greenline Project, which will deliver four kilometres of interconnected promenades, parks, open spaces, plants and more between Birrarung Marr and the Bolte Bridge.

The council has also committed to building toward its zero-carbon target through a $281,000 investment in Retrofit Melbourne that would support commercial building retrofits for a healthier, more sustainable city.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the draft budget was delivering on promises, including transforming the “city from grey to green in neighbourhoods that need it most, like Southbank”.

“As more and more people choose to make the City of Melbourne their home, we want to ensure all our residents have access to green, open space,” she said.

The council’s environment portfolio lead Cr Rohan Leppert said, “Our significant investment will ensure nature in our city flourishes – improving the wellbeing of our community and creating a more resilient city in the face of climate change.”

Community group Southbank3006 president David Hamilton commended the council for proposing to expand the Normandy Rd reserve into open public space.


“This is exactly the imaginative and creative thinking Southbank3006 has been arguing is required for in tackling the open space problem across the neighbourhood,” he said.


“[With] this development, like at ACCA, the council is bringing public space close to where people live. Southbank is much more than the Boyd and its limitations.”

The council said it was well on track to achieve its goal of 40 per cent canopy cover by 2040, with more than 33,000 planted since 2012.

Cr Capp said the council was looking at opportunities to return to surplus in 2024-25, noting it was on track to for the Gross Local Product to reach $120 billion by the end of this financial year.

“We invested strongly and boldly to help kickstart Melbourne following lockdowns, which came at a significant cost and multiple deficit budgets,” she said. •

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